House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has subpoenaed Karl Rove, the former top political advisor to President George W. Bush, to question what Rove knows about “politicization” of the Justice Department.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had subpoenaed Rove during the last Congress, but relying on an executive privilege claim by Bush, Rove refused to appear.
Conyers had previously subpoenaed former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten, Bush former White House chief of staff, seeking any information they had. Conyers is also seeking White House documents related to the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.
After the White House refused to comply with the subpoenas, and Miers refused to even appear before the committee to answer the subpoena, the House Judiciary Committee sued. A federal judge backed the committee in a major win for Conyers and House Democrats, but resolution of the case has been delayed by the changeover in administrations. President Obama has vowed to comply with congressional subpoenas.
“I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today’s action is an important step along the way,” Conyers said.
Rove has until Feb. 2 to respond to the subpoena.
Conyers added: “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”
Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, did not immediately return calls or e-mails seeking comment.
Obama and Eric Holder, the administration’s nominee for attorney general, have both said they will not try to “criminalize policy differences” with the Bush administration, especially controversial policies like authorization by the Justice Department of waterboarding.
But many prominent Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, have said they want to pursue Bush administration officials whom they believe misled Congress.
Leahy and other Democrats on his panel pressed Holder during his recent confirmation hearing to examine why federal prosecutors did not bring charges against Bradley Schlozman, a former top DOJ official in the Civil Rights Division. A DOJ inspector general report found that Schlozman had likely violated civil service law by examining the political affiliations or views of applicants for DOJ positions, but the office of the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia declined to seek charges.
Conyers wants information from Rove on the U.S. attorney firings, which eventually led to the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Conyers also wants to know whether Rove has any information on the prosecution of Don Siegelman. A former GOP activist in Alabama said Rove was behind the Siegelman case but Rove strongly denied the allegation.